JPIC Friar Focus

Friar David Stopyra, OFM Conv. ~ Taking on the Smell of your Sheep…or Goats
By Friar Michael Lasky, OFM Conv.

On a quiet September morning, anticipating a trip to The Big E later in the day, I chanced upon Friar David having his breakfast.  With a cup of coffee in hand, I sat myself down and asked him a simple question, “David, can you tell me about the goats?”  His answer began with a Stopyra look and laugh.

Friar David as shepherd of those in formation: 1976-1979 when he served as Guardian and Director of Formation, St. Hyacinth College and Seminary (Granby, MA)

Here is his story…
Imagine our senior friars at St. Hyacinth Friary anticipating that annual October Conventual discernment: “What will we ‘do’ for the Franciscan Fast?” The day of the friary’s House Chapter* arrived and Friar David announced that he would spare the community the early penance of such delicate deliberation and offer something new, which would be announced on the community bulletin board within the week. The notice went up and friar after friar rolled his eyes, while chuckling at the typo, Goats for the Poor, “Surely, he meant Coats for the Poor!”
No, he meant GOATS. It was something Friar David put into practice as pastor of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish (Taunton, MA), where he served for 15 years. He has now brought to our friars in Chicopee through the Catholic Charities initiative ~ Goats and Hopes.
Friar David’s inspiration went back to when he was first made a “shepherd” of goats in the Novitiate.  In the mountains of western Massachusetts, in a place simply called Becket, +Father Master Cornelian Dende, OFM Conv. acquired goats, which were put in Friar David’s care.  They were Alpine, Toggenburg, Saanen, and Nubian. Each had a name. Friar David especially remembers Luella and Susie (remembered as Poor Susie but that is a story for another day).

Fr. David Stopyra, OFM Conv. celebrated 65 years as a Professed Franciscan Friar Conventual this year. Born in Lawrence, MA in 1934 (A son of The Queen City of the Merrimack Valley), he entered the Mt. St. Lawrence Novitiate in 1951, and made his First Profession of Vows on August 15, 1952. Three years later to the day, he celebrated his Solemn Profession of Vows and was Ordained to the Priesthood on May 28, 1960 in St. Michael’s Cathedral, in Springfield, MA by +The Most Rev. Christopher J. Weldon.
Friar David earned several advanced degrees in Philosophy, Theology and Education and has served in province pastoral ministries as well as an educator, counselor, formator and definitor. He currently resides in our St. Hyacinth Friary, in Chicoppee, MA where he lives in community with several other of our senior friars.:

  • 1960:  Assistant Pastor & Teacher, St. Francis Parish & St. Francis HS, Athol Springs, NY
  • 1961:  Teacher & Counselor, Archbishop Curley High School, Baltimore, MD
  • 1971:  Guardian & Principal, Immaculate Heart of Mary Friary & Archbishop Curley HS
  • 1976:  Guardian & Director of Formation, St. Hyacinth College and Seminary, Granby, MA
  • 1979:  Guardian & Pastor, St. Stanislaus Friary and Parish, Trenton, NJ
  • 1982:  Guardian &Pastor, St. Hyacinth Friary and Parish, Auburn, NY
  • 1991:  Guardian & Pastor, St. Francis Friary and Parish, Athol Springs, NY
  • 1997:  Pastor, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish, Taunton, MA
*Rooted in the positive attitude and openness of each and every friar, the House Chapter is where we share the things most vital to our life so that our fraternity can be life-giving to us and attractive for young men to join us. Each friary commits itself to celebrate at least eight chapters per year and devote ample time to fraternal sharing, discernment, and planning. Each friar commits himself to this positive, participative, and prayerful moment in the life of a healthy friary.